Transformers: Age of Extinction

 
(i)

 

Occasional thrills can't save plodding, messy sequel.
  • Review Date: June 27, 2014
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2014
  • Running Time: 166 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The moral of the story is that unchecked technology and innovation can sometimes lead to corruption, greed, and dangerous developments. And there are underlying themes of loyalty and fighting for what's right. But they're frequently overwhelmed by the fact that violence is used to settle all conflicts, as well as a few negative stereotypes and jokes. And while the father in the story rightly believes it's his duty to protect his daughter, he also thinks she needs another protector (in the form of her boyfriend) rather than believing she can defend herself.

Positive role models

Cade is a devoted father to Tessa. And Tessa and Shane, despite keeping their relationship a secret, are supportive of each other and help Cade. But the movie also pervasively objectifies women, and there are some stereotypes, both in the way some of the Autobots talk and in the implication that all Chinese people are magically experts at martial arts.

Violence

This franchise is full of violence, but it's not usually gory, and the same is true here -- with one notable exception: A man is incinerated and is shown dead, mid-stride, completely burnt. And, of course, there's tons of loud, explosive action between the remaining Autobots and Lockdown, the evil Decepticon bounty hunter. There are also human vs. Transformer battle sequences, as well as human vs. human fights. Many people and Transformers die, as well as countless civilians via scenes of mass destruction.

Sex

Less overt sexual innuendo than in previous installments, but still many shots of scantily clad women (particularly Tessa, whose father chides her for wearing too-short shorts/skirts/cleavage-baring tops), and nearly every female character in the movie is objectified and unnecessarily sexualized. There's a conversation about Tessa and Shane's relationship being covered by the "Romeo and Juliet law," which means sexual contact between a minor and a legal adult began when both parties were under 18. Shane makes a joke to Cade about wanting fresh breath when "making out with your daughter." One big kiss.

Language

Frequent use of "s--t," and occasional use of "a--hole," "bitch," "ass," a bleeped-out "f--k," and a singular "f--k" (in the phrase "Get the f--k out of the way").

Consumerism

The entire franchise is based on Hasbro toys, which are popular with/marketed to kids who aren't old enough to see the movie. There are also many product placements within the movie, from General Motors cars (Chevrolet, Dodge, Cadillac, etc.) to imported cars (Lamborghini, Pagani, Range Rover, Mini Cooper, Rolls Royce) and drinks (Budweiser beer, Coca-Cola), as well as products/logos from Victoria's Secret, Epson, Samsung, and Beats speakers. There's barely a scene that doesn't prominently include a brand.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Cade drinks a beer in one scene.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth installment in director Michael Bay's toy-based franchise, starring a new cast of characters but featuring the same amounts of over-the-top violence and explosive action audiences have come to expect from these films. The dialogue is peppered with strong language, mostly "s--t" or "ass," but there's also the occasional "a--hole" and one use of "f--k." As for sex, while there's only one big kiss, more problematic is the movie's pervasive objectification of women, with nearly all of the female characters wearing tight, revealing clothes. Families sensitive to racial stereotypes may not appreciate the way some of the Autobots talk or how, in one scene, it's implied that all Chinese people are magically experts at martial arts. Despite all its many iffy elements (and the nearly three-hour runtime), this film will appeal to teen boys who enjoy action flicks. While younger kids may be interested, especially if they play with the Hasbro toys, this series is best for older kids who can handle the non-stop chaos and massive destruction.

What's the story?

TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION picks up after the events of Transformers: Dark of the Moon: A CIA black ops unit headed by Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) is hunting down the remaining Autobots with the help of Decepticon bounty hunter Lockdown (voiced by Mark Ryan). Meanwhile, in small-town Texas, Cade (Mark Wahlberg), a single father/nearly broke inventor buys a damaged old 18-wheeler in hopes of stripping it down for parts. But he quickly realizes it's not a normal truck: It's a Transformer -- Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). Cade; his daughter, Tessa (Nicola Peltz); and her secret boyfriend, Shane (Jack Reynor), are immediately drawn into a fight with the brutal black ops agents. Optimus helps the trio escape, and together they join the remaining Autobots in fighting the corrupt government agents, Lockdown, and a new threat: a visionary CEO (Stanley Tucci) who's found a way to create an army of Transformers.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Michael Bay is known as an overconfident director of mega-budget action films. While he admittedly has the technical skills to make the genre occasionally thrilling with his signature use of slow-mo shots during fast-paced battle sequences, there are really only a few moments when a discerning audience will feel they got their money's worth in this latest, ridiculous installment. Otherwise, unless you're a tween/teen, it's probable you'll end up rolling your eyes through the bulk of Transformers: Age of Extinction's cliched dialogue, sexist and stereotypical characterizations, and overlong plot that never seems to end.

Let's not even harp on Reynor's terrible Irish accent (the screenwriter should have just made him Australian, since the Aussie actor's Irishness was only brought up once), on the gratuitous but predictable shots of women's bodies (every female character looks like a model and wears tight or revealing clothes), or on the laughable plot developments that reduce all Chinese characters into martial arts experts and all political employees into either hacks or traitors. In the end, the run time tells it all. With very few exceptions, action movies have no business being nearly three hours long. At least Tucci looks like he's having a blast playing a Steve Jobs-like innovator, and the friendly Autobots will be met with applause. But even a few admittedly awesome, jump-worthy action moments can't save this from being yet another hugely expensive but ultimately mediocre installment in a franchise that just needs to end.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Transformers movies' violence. Is it realistic and frightening, or does it have less impact because Transformers don't exist? How does the movie differentiate between Transformer-on-Transformer violence versus violence against humans?

  • As in previous movies in the franchise, there are again some instances in which characters of a particular gender, ethnic, or racial group are depicted in a stereotypical manner. What do you think about those stereotypes? Does it matter whether they're depicted in the Transformers or in human characters?

  • How do you think this installment compares to the previous Transformers movies? Do you think there should be more?

  • Why do you think the movie focuses so much more on the various female actresses' bodies than on those of the male actors? What message does that send?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 27, 2014
DVD release date:September 30, 2014
Cast:Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Kelsey Grammer
Director:Michael Bay
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Robots
Run time:166 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo

This review of Transformers: Age of Extinction was written by

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Parent Written byJim F July 1, 2014
 

No Hero's Here - Just Violence, Gore and Bad role models

Parents please take your kids elsewhere for "hero" action shows. Transformers 4 Age of Extinction is in no way a kids movie and there are no heros. It contains violence, gore, swearing including the F word and murder committed by "heroic good guys". The supposed hero-leader Optimus Prime violently kills other robots and a human. Also he threatens an animal-like character to "Help Us or Die" as he takes a red hot sword to the character's ear. So not only is Optimus Prime portrayed as a violent killing brawler he also is an animal abuser. Also the commercialism is over the top.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Educator and Parent Written bymafeulner July 3, 2014
 

Getting a Bad Rap

Yes, there is a lot of violence and it is not the strongest plot, but this is arguably the best movie in the franchise. And giant fighting robots is going to have violence. But I believe the critics are missing the point(s). Those complaints about too much sex are referring to the daughter wearing skimpy shorts and kissing her secret boyfriend, who is intentionally played that way to emphasize the single father's struggle of raising a teenage girl. Too much consumerism? That was half of the plot! It was an indictment of 'bottom-line/profit motive' mentalities. And, ultimately, the main theme is choosing to do the honorable thing in the face of betrayals and when it is hugely difficult. The only problem I had with it was the swearing, which was a tad too much, again.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byNo Name, for real. June 29, 2014
 
Don't worry. This movie is not nearly as disspointing as you might think, the plot and execution of the story is actually really great. I loved the pacing and overall darker tone of the film that gave this long running series a new spark of life. However Micheal Bay is a little overconfident when it comes to making human characters relatabale by adding some obnoxious unnecessary sexual innuendo and humor. Micheal, seriously, just stop... We get it. If the movie had had a little better tighter pacing, cut lines of dialoge from some of the more obnoxious characters, and a little more of a beating heart that it really could have had, it really could have been something special. Unfortunately for us, Micheal Bay threw them in anyways, its brutal run time is the weakest part of it all. If you can look past all the obnoxious dialoge youo can actually find an enjoyable and darker new spark of genuine life in this long running series. You should now what your getting into if you buy a ticket, I personally left the theater wanting less and more, just be aware of what kind of territory your diving into by now. Maybe next time Micheal Bay...
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

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